10/30/2008 11:00PM

Japan Cup next on Marsh Side's slate

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Marsh Side, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine last month, will make his next start in the Group 1 Japan Cup at Tokyo Race Course on Nov. 30, trainer Neil Drysdale said on Friday.

Marsh Side's victory in the $2 million Canadian International on Oct. 4 was part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program for the BC Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, but Drysdale said the additional time to the Japan Cup made it more attractive than the Breeders' Cup.

Owned by breeder Robert Evans, Marsh Side has won 5 of 18 starts and $1,439,706. The Canadian International victory is by far the most prestigious of his career. Marsh Side, 5, was winless in four starts this year before the Canadian International.

"We got off on the wrong foot with him, but he ran very well in the Canadian," Drysdale said.

Marsh Side showed different tactics in the Canadian International, stalking the pace instead of trying to come from far back as he did when eighth in the Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine in early September.

Drysdale said that Javier Castellano, who was aboard for the win in the Canadian International, will retain the mount in the Japan Cup, which is run over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Believe in Hope back training soon

Believe in Hope, third in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita in September, is nearing a return to training after developing a temperature in October that kept him from starting in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Trainer Ron Ellis said that Believe in Hope's blood tests indicated that the colt is "almost back to normal."

It is unclear whether Believe in Hope can start in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity here on Dec. 21, or whether he will return to racing during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, Believe in Hope has 1 victory in 3 starts and earnings of $66,800. He finished fifth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in his stakes debut on Sept. 3 and was beaten three-quarters of a length by Street Hero in the Norfolk Stakes. The runner-up in that field, Midshipman, returned to win the BC Juvenile.

Believe in Hope was pre-entered for the BC Juvenile, but was withdrawn from consideration before entries were taken.

Two Step Salsa aims for Malibu

Two Step Salsa, third in the BC Dirt Mile, is being pointed for the $250,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.

The Grade 1 race for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs is expected to have an outstanding field.

Aside from Two Step Salsa, some of the contenders include Into Mischief, Dancing in Silks, and Georgie Boy - the first-, second-, and fourth-place finishers in the Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 25; Gayego, the winner of the Arkansas Derby in April, who was seventh in the Damascus; Bob Black Jack, the world record holder at six furlongs; Tres Borrachos, the winner of the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in July; and El Gato Malo, a stakes winner in January who is preparing for a comeback.

Two Step Salsa was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by winner Albertus Maximus in the BC Dirt Mile. Trained by Julio Canani for Jeff Nielsen's Everest Stable, Two Step Salsa set a quick pace - 45.02 seconds and 1:08.57 - and did not yield the lead until the final sixteenth.

"He ran super," Canani said. "He didn't want to quit. I was very proud of the horse."

Two Step Salsa is unlikely to race before the Malibu. In his eight-race career, Two Step Salsa has four wins and earnings of $386,540.

Church Service, Big Booster on separate paths

Trainer Mike Mitchell finished second and third with Church Service and Big Booster in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon over 1 1/2 miles. This fall, the two are going different ways.

Mitchell is giving Big Booster a rest, and plans to do the same with Church Service, after the 5-year-old gelding starts in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 6.

Church Service rallied from last of eight in the BC Marathon to finish a head behind winner Muhannak, a European invader. Big Booster finished three-quarters of a length behind Church Service.

"I hated to run them in the same race," Mitchell said.

Big Booster, who won the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap on turf at Santa Anita in April and the Gallant Man Handicap at Hollywood Park on the main track in June, will be pointed for the 2009 San Juan Capistrano.

"I turned him out and that was my intention before the Breeders' Cup," Mitchell said. "I'll give him 45 days. I've been hard on him."

Church Service won the Grade 3 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park in May. The narrow loss in the BC Marathon was his best result in three starts since that race.

Elle Pickle right back at winning level

Elle Pickle won a second-level allowance race at Santa Anita on Oct. 10. On Sunday at Hollywood Park, she will run in exactly the same kind of allowance race.

Elle Pickle was racing a level over her conditions on Oct. 10, and much to trainer Steve Knapp's surprise, won anyway by 1 3/4 lengths. After she was entered, he realized that one of Elle Pickle's victories in her native New Zealand last February paid less than $7,500 to the winner, and that made her eligible to the allowance.

"I learned something about reading the form of a New Zealand horse," he said. "Every day, you learn something in this game."

Knapp wanted to run Elle Pickle in the $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 24, but the race oversubscribed and Elle Pickle was excluded from the field.

In Sunday's race, over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Elle Pickle is part of a field of six fillies and mares. Among the others is Jibboom, the winner of the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in 2007 who was seventh in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland last month.

Despite Jibboom's presence, Knapp is confident in Elle Pickle.

"I think she's sitting on a real big race," he said. "I think she'll be hard to beat."